Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
FERNDALE – By 9:30 p.m. Nov. 4 it was clear that Mayor Robert Porter and Councilman Craig Covey, both endorsed by Pride PAC, had secured reelection in Ferndale. Less clear was the status of Jackie Koivu, the third Pride PAC endorsed candidate running for the remaining open council seat. With 400 absentee ballots yet to be counted, Koivu, one of seven candidates running, was just behind Michael Lennon. After all the votes were tallied, Lennon emerged the winner by only 95 votes.
About 25 people gathered early in the evening at Boogie Fever nightclub in Ferndale at the Porter and Covey victory party eagerly waiting for the numbers to come in. Tracey Dominiack, a staff member at MAPP where Covey is CEO, recorded the numbers as they came in on a prominently displayed tally board. Dominiack, from Warren, has helped Covey with his part two campaigns for City Council.
Among those present at the party were Executive Director of Affirmations Leslie Thompson, Greenhouse Founder Tom Ness, MAPP Deputy Director Candice Moench, and Ferndale businessman Dave Grobbel.
Grobbel helped with Covey’s campaign. “He’s a good guy and believes in what he does,” he said. “He’s a real person.”
Although Koivu didn’t end up taking the open seat, she does not see it as a loss. “We ran a good clean hard campaign and we have no regrets,” she said. “We’re very pleased with the showing.” She also said that she was very happy Covey and Porter were reelected.
Koivu said that waiting for the absentee ballots to be counted was very nerve racking and that getting the final count was a big let down. However, she hasn’t ruled out another run in the future. She said if she decides to run again, “I will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Sean Drate of Pride PAC said that out of all the candidates running in Ferndale, only four people returned the Pride PAC questionnaire. All four of those candidates, Porter, Koivu, Covey, and Lennon are the ones who came out on top.
“Even though we didn’t endorse Lennon it was interesting that people who were willing to answer our questions were the three that did the best,” said Drate.
Although not endorsed by Pride PAC and considered by many to be conservative, Lennon said at a League of Women Voters debate before the election that he would vote to hold Pride Fest in Ferndale should he win. Lennon’s brother David, a strong ally to the LGBT community, was on the council until his death in a car accident this summer.
Lennon told the Ferndale Mirror in a Nov. 6 article that he won because of his blunt honesty. “Sure I’m pro-union and pro-labor,” he told the Mirror, “but I will always make decisions based on the betterment of this community. I’m going to work hard for the people of Ferndale.”
Although Porter stated public support for Koivu and feels sad about her loss, he feels optimistic about the election results. “I felt Jackie would have made a wonderful addition to the council and I was looking to her for operation of some youth programs I have on the books but don’t have staff to run,” he said. “I am sure Michael is going to do a bang up job for us, though. Michael brings a little different perspective than we’ve had up there and that’s what government’s all about.”
Porter commended Koivu for her campaign. “Lennon’s family has literally been a political dynasty in this town from Mayor on down,” he said. “For her to place as close to him as she did, she did a marvelous job.”
Porter also commended Covey, who received more votes than any other council candidate. “I was glad to see Craig do as well as he did as the number one vote getter again for council.”
Covey, the only openly gay council member in Ferndale, has been accused in the past of being a single-issue candidate. Porter maintains that Covey has very broad appeal. “Craig actually pulls some votes from the conservative side,” he said. “That’s a human thing. Craig, myself, we’re working folks that just happen to care about our community and take a hands on but a basic human approach to what government should be.”
Although LGBT issues were not at the forefront in this year’s campaign, they were never far from the surface. Covey said the main issues in the campaign were budget cuts, city staffing and public safety. However, candidates who appear to be anti-gay aren’t doing themselves any favors in Ferndale.
“The gay and lesbian community is such a visible and integral part of the whole fabric of Ferndale’s community, that most candidates accept that voting bloc and its allies,” said Covey. “While the GLBT community makes up only 15 to 20% of the voting population, those in the straight community who accept the gay community make up another 40 to 50% of the population.” He maintained that candidates considered far right or homophobic have not won a Ferndale election in eight years.
Beth Holland, Porter’s challenger for mayor, and city council candidate Dawn Ptaszynski were considered by many to be too far to the right for Ferndale. Porter beat Holland by nearly 600 votes. Covey garnered more than 500 votes more than Ptaszynski.